Church looking to the future
MINISTERS and parish council members in Gympie's Anglican Church have spent three years working on a new plan designed to make the church more relevant to the region's younger generations.
Reverend Andrew Cooper, who arrived in Gympie in December 2011, said the first question the group asked was what type of community the church wanted to be a part of in the future.
"So it's a renewed vision which builds on the past," Rev Cooper told the Gympie Times yesterday.
The 'Mission Action Plan' will be launched at a gala dinner on Saturday night, with special guests the Anglican Diocese of Brisbane's northern region bishop, the Right Reverend Dr Jonathan Holland; MP Warren Truss, MP Tony Perrett, Mayor Mick Curran and their wives.
"There is a specific focus on reaching out to families and young children, going forward to 2020," Rev Cooper said.
"There was also a practical decision about how we use our buildings, particularly our two churches in Gympie."
The church council decided to consolidate prayer and church services at St Peter's on Lady Mary Tce, while St John's on Pine St, which has always been a multi-function building, will become a resource for community workshops and school programs.
"We are already in partnership with Anglicare SQ - a parenting and early childhood 'joey' program - and the childcare centre Goodstart is there too. And we run two programs for children, Mainly Music and Messy Church, so we're building up our relationship with them all, engaging families in celebrating and learning about God.
"Messy Church includes arts and craft; dancing and running; we've had a petting zoo and, we have water play and mud play - hence the word 'messy'. It all helps bring alive the message."
The MAP will also encompass the Cooloola Coast - the Good Shepherd at Rainbow Beach; the worship group at Tin Can Bay; and the Mary Valley centres.
"There are seven worshipping centres in our region. I am ably assisted by two retired priests - Rev Kevin Lewis at Cooloola Coast and Rev Bruce Dorman who is also the police chaplain, as well as Rev Anne Shepperson who is also the Nambour Hospital chaplain, plus a large number of active lay chaplains and members."
The church had to face the fact it had an aging population, and at some point it had to make a commitment to the future, he said.
"While we honour and treasure the past, we had to look at ways to meet the needs of a new generation," Rev Cooper said.
"We have made a commitment to not die quietly but to move to being a live and vital part of the community."
The gala evening is being held in the Orchid Room at the Gympie RSL Club on Saturday at 6pm.